Archive for April, 2008
Tomorrow (Friday, 25th April) marks this year’s Day of Silence in America.
The Day of Silence has been held each year in April since 1996 and its purpose is to highlight the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students, and their supporters.
The organisers GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) say that this year’s event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15 year old California student who was shot and killed in February by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. (See also this post elsewhere at TFW).
The dedication to Lawrence King is made even more poignant in the light of the news earlier this week (see Pam’s House Blend and The Bilerico Project) that the alleged murderer’s attorney is pushing the trans-panic defence – most notably (but not only) used in the trials following the murders of Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo and Sanesha Stewart, to name but three…
But it should be noted that there are dissenting voices to the Day of Silence, perhaps most notably the Liberty Counsel (curtsey to Pam’s House Blend for the link). Many of the groups who oppose the Day of Silence have formed a loose coalition to protest against the protesters, see this page of the World Net Daily site for the full list.
It’s interesting to note that, according to the Liberty Counsel’s letter, being silent in class may be deemed likely to cause “a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities” and is therefore “not permitted and is not protected under the First Amendment“. Well, okay, so speech isn’t silence – but prohibiting silence seems a curious way to protect the freedom of speech. As ever, when people start talking about freedom, it’s never entirely clear whether they mean ‘freedom from’ or ‘freedom to’.
I’m really looking forward to the finished product.
Curse you, WordPress, for fighting my attempt to post this every step of the way. :(
Reposting the link to Sylvia’s post about the recent appropriation of Women of Color words. Mainly, the discussion.
This link to the Blog and the Bullet on appropriation and racism.
And this letter to white feminists, from Ico. Read it, read the discussion.
I have more links to add:
Sudy asks if feminism is a movement, and who that movement (or ideology) is really for. The entire post is a must-read, but this paragraph hit me pretty hard:
The question of liberation for privileged feminists will always remain unanswered because they are not equipped, they never learned to self-analyze beyond their own profit and gains. Privileged feminists will remain, I believe, fumbling in the dark with nothing but their oversized dry hands, their desire to be a good ally but inability to acutely challenge their darkest shadows of moral responsibility and fragile egos. In the meantime, the backs of womyn of color have been broken.
For a concrete example, Amanda Marcotte – when her appropriation was pointed out, she responded by attacking everyone – framing their criticism as “accusations of plagiarism,” or jealous attempts to harm her career. I’m not picking solely on Amanda here, but simply using her as an example. This is simply one more case of a white woman using women of colors’ work as her own and thus erasing their work while taking full credit. She’s not the first, and she won’t be the last, and every time this happens, how many white women – white feminists – will stand up and do something to ensure the right thing is done? How many will simply fall back to discussing the problem and then forgetting about it until it happens again?
Jill at Feministe wrote an article linking back to Sudy’s post, also linked above.
Cripchick wrote a poem about this. Go read it. I can’t quote just one part.
The Angry Black Woman has a message for Seal Press, Amanda Marcotte, and Salon Broadsheet.
Sylvia wrote this to clarify what the real point is – the history of appropriation, of rendering people of color invisible while white people claim credit for their work.
A few weeks ago, The Angry Black Woman wrote a letter to thank white people. A lot of white people showed up in her comments to completely misunderstand what she was saying and why she was saying it; showed up and tried to make it about them. Stormfront linked to her blog, and white supremacists came to her blog to attack her for daring to have a voice. This isn’t specifically about appropration, but in a more general sense is about white reactions to people of color daring to speak their truths.
Ilyka posted about the message being sent in these discussions.
Twisty posted about how white feminists often wield white privilege against women of color in ways similar to how men wield male privilege against women.
Ico posted about the racist pictures in the book promoted on Feministe. Short version: They feature a blonde woman fighting “savage” black men in a jungle.
blueAlto posted about how questions of appropriation/theft/plagiarism deflect can and do deflect the discussion away from the problem.
And then there’s the fallout:
Brownfemipower has stopped blogging. She’s taken down her blog, and all of the work she’s done over the past few years. It’s still backed up, but I hope we can see it again. I also understand if we never do.
I wrote what I wrote in response to all those feminists who, during the Full Frontal Feminism blow up, kept insisting over and over again that if “WOC” want book deals, they should “go get it them themselves.” That publishers weren’t skimming through the blogosphere looking for just anybody who’s a good writer. That you had to work for a book deal—you had to fight for it, show a little initiative, stop complaining, just do it. JUST. DO. IT.
As if there were no such thing as racism—as if there was no such thing as racism that is alive and well and present in the most cellular of spaces. As if simply opening a proposal and viewing the odd name at the top of the proposal doesn’t influence how the person reading that name will understand the rest of the proposal.
I wrote what I wrote to all those people, to all those feminists, who insist that short of refusing publication (and what good is that?) there is little to nothing feminists can do to stand in solidarity with other feminists who are not as privileged as they are.
I wrote what I wrote to say that there either is a feminist movement or there isn’t—and if feminists can’t even be called on to point to the work that other feminists are doing—if simply pointing to a whole sphere of pro-immigration bloggers (because, to be clear, I stated pro-immigration bloggers and men and women bloggers of color NOT brownfemipower) who have been blogging incessantly about this is too much work for feminism—well, then there’s no fucking feminist movement.
That if dabbling into and getting to know an actual community working in a certain way is too much work for feminism, then there is no fucking feminist movement.
That is what I said.
If you haven’t read the whole thing yet, go read it. If you have read it, go read it again.
And BlackAmazon. After the whole Seal Press mess along with this, she’s taking a break from blogging.
Do you know what it’s like to read the website that helped start your progressive /radical life describe you being disrespected and hurt as a maelstrom?TO mention your name once and magically turn you into women of color while expressing sympathy for people who flat out made you cry. To turn one SINGULAR you into this monolithic beast as if the people who agreed with you couldn’t possibly be diverse interested in their own realities but some side that is being ‘counterproductive” and not ACTUALLY wounded?
And then to say I won’t pick a winner? As if this was some kind of GAME?!
DO you know what it’s like to read time and time AGAIN someone you love dearly be frigging ROASTED in ” polite terms” and have it be okay. To watch people make pledges and commitments that magically disappear the REALITY and specifics of what has harmed you and hurt you in the name of ” objectivity”. Where in objectivity means we’re going to protect HER in expense of HER and EMPHASIZE the power we have by promising that THIS TIME we will give it to you?
As if that doesn’t make us the ULTIMATE OTHER? As if This benevolent desire to lead or to do BASIC frigging research is such a life changing act, and not ANOTHER way of affirming a death grip on privilege power and NON equitable action?
And those are the ” GOOD” responses!
And just in case your wondering in the grand cluster screw of this how many people actively involved with basically screwing me over, making me uncomfortable, or cry have actively in any way tried to CONTACT AND TALK TO ME
Read her entire post. Don’t go for the bloodsport.
And thank you to littlem on Feministe for putting the first of these three links together and prompting this post. The post on Feministe is about promoting Amanda’s book, but the problem is that we still have this appropriation elephant in the living room, and white people are either avoiding the question or not effectively engaging it. Or they loudly insist it doesn’t exist, and viciously attack all.
Anyway, if anyone has links I should include here, please let me know. I’ll be adding more as I find them.
Anyway, Bint Alshamsa has collected several quotes from these women, demonstrating the, er, consistency in their approach.
I can’t quote it in its entirety and I can’t pick just one or two excerpts to use here, but read it – it really shows the approach taken to debate and disagreement, how anyone who’s not with them must be dehumanized and destroyed, or at least thoroughly discredited and misrepresented.
Cripchick’s hosting the 37th edition of the Disability Blog Carnival:
Disability Identity: What Do You Think??
The Disability Activist Collective, a group of disability activists working to create change within the disability community by shifting focus towards culture and identity, is currently collecting pieces (poetry, art, essays, videos, blog posts) on disability culture, community and identity in hopes of creating a website or hub on disability culture. This carnival is your chance to participate in the building of it!
This edition will focus on disability identity and culture in all its forms (i.e. radical disability pride, understanding disability through various frameworks, disability intersecting [coming together] with other identities, dealing with pain, etc.).
The deadline to submit something is officially May 4th though I will keep adding people in through a rolling basis. The blog carnival will go on air May 8th. You can submit things by leaving a link in a comment to this post, emailing me it at consciouslycrip [at] gmail [dot] com, or using the blogcarnival.com tech.
The Angry Black Woman is hosting a blog carnival for allies:
I’ve been thinking about many things since the whole “Thank You, White People” post debacle and subsequent influx of white supremacists who seemed to come here with the intent of saying, “You thought you dealt with racists on a daily basis? HA! We’ll show you what REAL racism is!” And they did. One of my reactions was to say that for every white ally who acknowledged racism and worked to fight against it, there were 20 others wishing to drag us back to Jim Crow and worse. Then smart commenter Jackie said:
Thing is, I don’t believe there’re 20 of them for every one of us (black or white or other) who wants to make things right; I think there’s actually somewhat fewer of them. But for each white supremacist (and for each person of any color who wants to make things right) there are 20 nice, well-meaning, but privileged and entitled white people who thing “racism is bad” but have no idea whatsoever that real racism exists, or what it’s like to be a target of it. Or how much they have benefited from their European coloring, and from not having centuries of slavery and legally enforced poverty limiting every aspects of the parents’ and grandparents’ and great-great-great-grandparents’ lives.
This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?
And that got me wondering if this was true for any kind of ally. Is it easier to understand oppression, to move past guilt and on to useful dialogue, etc., if the person explaining these things to you in-depth is a person like yourself? White or male or straight or Christian or whatever? I don’t know. But as this is the Internet, it should be easy to figure out.
The deadline is May 5th, and I apologize for my own atrocious lateness in posting about it.
Monica Roberts has been blogging about this, and I wasn’t paying attention (my blogular attention is way too spotty these days). But, it continues to confirm that HRC are not our friends and allies.
Short version: HRC actually called the police on the protest, implying that they might turn violent. HRC also had the protesters (who were not violent or loud or carrying signs) escorted out of the hotel when they tried to educate people attending the HRC rally.
HRC tries to spin their years of anti-trans sentiment as a “transgender conspiracy theory.”
I can’t reproduce all the information here, so read the posts at Monica’s blog.
Don’t be like Wi-I mean “Punk” in the comments for this post:
‘Transwomen’ are usually white and male. It is wholly offensive of any white male person to lump his self in with black women and prostituted women, and to appropriate the language of civil rights – ‘marginalized’ – in order to increase the sexual excitement he derives from inhabiting those identities. But then, neither black women, prostituted women or prostituted black women would expect white males to understand this.
Punk is clearly ignorant of the fact that many trans women are women of color. Many trans women work as prostitutes because they’re unable to find other work (and if you follow the link, you can see these women are murdered rather frequently, and are often women of color). Punk clearly thinks that he or she knows trans women’s minds better than we do, because she defines our identities in terms of the sexual excitement we allegedly derive from “inhabiting those identities.” Because lord knows, when those with privilege set out to understand those without privilege, they always start by defining our realities and lives for us, in ways that demean us and absolve them of any responsibility for treating us like human beings.
This is classic silencing, “put you in your place” language. Punk wants me to understand I’m not fully human, and thus not fully deserving of civil rights.
Punk, I won’t approve your comments as long as you can’t follow these very simple guidelines. This space is not for you to spread your transphobic hate speech. Use your own blog. Troll elsewhere.
Edit to add: Ren has a more in-depth takedown here.
I don’t have anything to add here – just read it and the comments.
Thank you for being in the blogosphere when I came around, bfp.
I’m going to make a generalization, but I feel justified – radical feminists like to act like being called “transphobic” or criticized is silencing, but silencing is actively keeping someone from speaking – like trying to keep a woman out of a debate about pornography because she makes you feel uncomfortable.
That’s silencing – but I guess to many radical feminists, sex workers don’t deserve a voice of their own.
Trans women, sex workers, often women of color… women who are marginalized already are characterized as dangerous and scary, and must be kept away from the civilized feminists who don’t want any disagreement with their particular politics (like blaming sex workers for upholding rape culture).
Sudy asks feminists to stop stealing. Since it’s not unusual for some white feminists to ignore and dismiss woc bloggers, only to use their ideas without crediting them, this is a fair demand.
Belledame also covers this in a bit more detail.
When women talk and talk and yell for months, even years, about injustices suffered by women of color and are outright ignored, dismissed, belittled, talked down to, only to see their words, their writing, echoed in another – more privileged – woman’s work, without any credit given or acknowledged, something’s seriously wrong. If you write about what women of color have to suffer, understand that one of the things women of color have had to suffer is having their words and ideas stolen, and at the very least, point to the road they’ve already traveled if you intend to walk down it yourself.
It’s not hard.
Edit: I meant to include this article much earlier, and apologies for not. Compare the article to Brownfemipower’s posts that Sudy linked.
Apologies for being less explicit than I should have been.
Brownfemipower also has a response up.
Sylvia at problemchylde makes it even clearer.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what X wrote, it’s just, you know, women like bfp have been talking about this for the past year, and there’s not a hint of credit given for the work they’ve done and are doing.
Edit: Sudy rightfully points out that people are linking her with reference to this incident with X, and not the historical context that this has happened over and over again, and is not an isolated incident. This isn’t about whether X needs to credit BFP or Nina Perales, but rather about whether white feminists are crediting women of color when they refer to and use WoC’s work to inform their own.
And of course, the answer is “Yes, give credit where it’s due. Don’t steal. Don’t appropriate. Don’t try to make it about you.”
Apologies to Sudy for narrowing the subject down.